Q&A with Ludwig Wilding: Spectacular Spatial Art

Ludwig Wilding Poland
Ludwig Wilding (sitting) with Ingeborg, his wife, standing
next to him, at a recent museum show in Lodz, Poland.
Courtesy of the artist and NAB Gallery, Chicago.
Ludwig Wilding PSR 28 90
PSR 28/90, 1981. Photo: Amy Rudberg. Permission: NAB Gallery, Chicago.

Stereoscopics, a selection of Ludwig Wilding's retrospective show at the Museum of Concrete Art, Ingolstadt, Germany, is being shown at NAB Gallery in Chicago through February 2, 2008. His last large exhibition in the Chicago area was at the Gilman Gallery in 1981. Known for his moiré illustrations, geometric creations, and “stereoscopic” images, Wilding introduces the viewer to a compelling series of 3-D “optical illusions,” using black-and-white lines in grid arrangements viewed through plexiglass. He also presents a series of detailed geometric graphic illustrations. The viewer is totally engaged in “creating” the “3-D” art with Wilding, as the art changes depending on where the viewer stands. From various angles, grids seemingly turn into familiar objects such as kaleidoscopes, spinning wheels, subway tunnels, Japanese shoji doors, and city towers.

Wilding's recent shows include: a large retrospective at the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio; exhibition at Schim Kunsthalle Gallery, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; retrospective exhibition entited Visuelle PhŠnomene (Visual Phenomena), Museum fŸr Konkrete Kunst (Museum of Concrete Art), Ingolstadt, Germany.

From 2D to 3D Video

PSRNY 40, 8/2, 1980. Video: Amy Rudberg. Permission: NAB Gallery, Chicago.

In this piece, there are a series of vertical line patterns on paper nearest the wall. It is enclosed in a plexiglass casing about an inch thick. On the surface of the glass nearest the viewer is another series of vertical line patterns. When the entire piece is viewed from a few feet away, an illusion of 3D jagged peaks appears.

ArtStyle: What's your background in art?

Ludwig Wilding (LW): I studied art history and philosophy at a local university (in Germany) and received a University Entrance Diploma. I also studied with Willi Baumeister at the Art Academy in Stuttgart. I worked as an industrial designer and was later appointed instructor at the University of Applied Arts in Hamburg. My research was in visual perception and included making art objects based on these investigations.

Ludwig Wilding PAR2803
PAR 2803, 1999. 6 of 13. Courtesy: the artist and NAB Gallery, Chicago.

ArtStyle: What is stereoscopics?

LW: It is the investigation of stereoscopy, using optical techniques to create 3-D images. Stereoscopic vision means seeing with two eyes. The possibility arose of creating 3-D imagery without any optical appliances (e.g., glasses) through the invention of a special technology using the superimposition of lines (or interference) in minimal spaces. Spatial illusions forwards, toward the viewer, as well as backwards are possible with this innovative technique.

Ludwig Wilding KREISMOTIV
KREISMOTIV, 1972. 5 of 12. Courtesy: the artist and NAB Gallery, Chicago.

ArtStyle: What techniques and media do you use?

LW: Various methods are utilized. Lines are drawn or printed in grids on wood, particle board, paper, or transparent plexiglass.

Ludwig Wilding Graphic Art 02
Graphic Art 02. Photo: Amy Rudberg. Permission: NAB Gallery, Chicago.

ArtStyle: Who or what have been your influences?

LW: I have been influenced by classical and modern art, especially works of M. C. Escher, René Magritte, Willi Baumeister, as well as many other painters of classical Modernism.

Ludwig Wilding Graphic Art 03
Graphic Art 03. Photo: Amy Rudberg. Permission: NAB Gallery, Chicago.

ArtStyle: What do you want people to get out of your art?

LW: My art is spatial art. It simulates movement and space, based on and beginning with the flat surface of a wall. The viewer is directly encouraged to change his or her point of view by moving around and looking at the art from different angles. Since the viewer can intervene directly in the visual event, it is a democratic art. The work of art is produced only with the assistance of people's creativity.

Ludwig Wilding Graphic Art 06
Graphic Art 06. Photo: Amy Rudberg. Permission: NAB Gallery, Chicago.

Ludwig Wilding can be contacted through NAB Gallery, 1117 W. Lake Street, Chicago, IL 60607. Phone: 312-738-1620.

Thanks to Mark Staff Brandl for helping with translating German to English for this article.

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